Is Minella Indo a Serious Contender for the Gold Cup?

By  //  February 19, 2021

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It’s fair to say that the Gold Cup is the most coveted prize of all at the Cheltenham Festival. It is the meeting’s showpiece event, the culmination of four days of hard-fought, high-quality racing action.

Only the finest horses can stay the course and claim victory in the Gold Cup, and it’s a dream for owners, trainers and jockeys alike to boast a winner in the Cheltenham Festival day four feature race.

In the last couple of years, Al Boum Photo has been the star of the Gold Cup, earning victory in each of the two most recent editions of the race, giving trainer Willie Mullins plenty to celebrate.

With the 2021 Cheltenham Festival looming large on the horizon, the aim will be to make it three in a row, and in doing so match the achievement of Best Mate, who won the Gold Cup thrice on the spin in the 2000s.

It’s no surprise that Al Boum Photo is the heavy favourite in the Gold Cup odds from Betfair. Winning the race two years consecutively means you are guaranteed to be the favourite, and Mullins and jockey Paul Townend will have to cope with the pressure that brings as the big race inches ever closer.

One horse that could cause a stir and upset Al Boum Photo is Minella Indo, who is currently listed at around 8/1, a good deal longer than the favourite’s odds of 3/1. Trained by Henry de Bromhead, Minella Indo has been in decent form since losing out to Champ in a Novices’ Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

After that defeat, wins followed in the M.W. Hickey Memorial Chase at Wexford in another contest at Navan, before an untimely fall marked disappointment at Leopardstown at the end of December.

Minella Indo has shown enough, however, to be considered among the contenders for the Gold Cup, and it’s clear that no one will be taking the eight-year-old lightly ahead of the race.

Although the gelding missed out on victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, he was successful the year before in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – proof that he has what it takes to win on the big stage.

In jockey Rachael Blackmore, Minella Indo is ridden by someone who is in good form and is getting better and better as her career progresses. There have been some good times for Blackmore on board Minella Indo, and she has proved herself invaluable to de Bromhead in recent years.

A good jockey and trainer combo can reap huge rewards in racing, and it’s clear that Blackmore and de Bromhead have a great relationship.

That kind of thing can make all the difference when it comes to race day, where marginal gains are the order of the day. A happy horse, a confident rider, and a committed trainer are the keys to success in any Cheltenham Festival race, and the Gold Cup is no different.

It’ll be a tall order to get the better of Al Boum Photo and the rest of the strong challengers lining up for the Gold Cup, but Cheltenham results today can be notoriously unpredictable.

If Blackmore can find form and get Minella Indo into a good stride, then there’s every chance the pair could be right in the mix as they charge up the home straight.